We compared the effects of supplementing either animal plasma or extruded soy protein in the diet based on the efficiency of dietary protein utilization for lean tissue growth in early-weaned pigs. Twenty-four 14-d-old pigs (4 kg body weight) were pair-fed (per kg body weight) either a control diet containing extruded soy protein (C; n = 12) or a diet with 10% animal plasma (P; n = 12) for 24 d. During the 24 days, protein intake was not different, yet mean daily body weight gains (+23%) and food conversion efficiencies (expressed as the ratio of body weight gain to protein intake) (+19%) were greater (P < 0.05) in the P group than in the C group. Lean body mass measured after 24 d, using both dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and total body potassium analysis, was significantly (P < 0.05) greater (approximately 16%) in P than in C pigs. The circulating urea concentrations were 40% lower (P < 0.05) in P than in C pigs. Our results demonstrate that supplementing early-weaned pig diets with animal plasma rather than extruded soy protein increased the efficiency of dietary protein use for lean tissue growth and that this response is mediated in part by decreased amino acid catabolism.